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Jury and Award

Call for Ideas

If you want to take part, send us your idea!

We are looking for innovative ideas and new solutions for sustainable development in a wide range of fields directly related to our work [hyperlink to UNECE areas of work].

We are interested not only in products and technologies but also in social innovation and new ways of doing things!


2015, the year of the 70th anniversary of the UN, is key milestone for the world. UN Member States will adopt and ambitious and action-oriented Post-2015 Development Agenda with sustainable development goals, in New York in September, and a new Agreement to mitigate climate change, in Paris in December. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe [UNECE] is on the front line to give its contribution.

At the same time, there is a “startup revolution” going on in the world, producing most of the innovation with an impact on our day-to-day life, and changing the way we do business.

We, at UNECE, want to bring such powerful engine of transformation into our work for sustainable development and green economy to improve people’s wellbeing.


The jury is composed by highly-recognized international experts coming from different backgrounds, including business, science, academia and policy making.

Christian Friis Bach is the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) since July 2014. Christian previously served as Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation and Special Advisor to the European Union Commission for the United Nations Global Sustainability Panel. He is Honorary Professor of International Economics and Development at the University of Copenhagen. He also has private sector experience from running a start-up company and has worked as a journalist at the Danish Broadcasting Corporation. Christian holds a Ph.D. in International Economics, a MSc in Agronomy from the Royal Danish Agricultural University in Copenhagen and a supplementary degree in Journalism from the Danish School of Media and Journalism. 

Brigitte Baumann is the founder and CEO of Go Beyond Early Stage Investing, a global consultancy company that enables investors to build and manage diversified portfolios of direct investments in young, fast growing companies. It operates in Europe and the US. Brigitte is a Business Angel and serves on a number of selection and investment committees such as the WEF Tech Pioneer.  Brigitte is President Emeritus of EBAN, the European trade association for Business Angels and Seed Funds and of the Young Presidents Organization’s global Angel Investing group. She has 20+ years of experience in bringing new technologies to market in the US and Europe . She was the CEO and Director of iWORLD Group, a VC backed, global developer of mobile content. She was Senior Vice President and General Manager Internet  at American Express (Amex) Corporate Services. Brigitte holds a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Tufts University, Boston and an MBA in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. 

Sharon Kedmi  is the managing director of ALSTOM Israel, a leading multinational rail transport company. He was also the co-founder and CEO of Demeter-AWE Holdings, LTD, a global consulting and investment firm providing expertise and technological assistance to governments and entrepreneurs in the agriculture, water and energy sectors. Before his entrepreneurial career, Sharon held senior positions in the Israeli Government, most recently as Director-General of Israel’s Ministry of the Economy where he coordinated and implemented policy in industrial and economic development, job creation, international trade and investment in technology infrastructure. In February 2014, he was named Chair of the United Nations Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and PPPs. He holds a Bachelor degree in International Relations from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as graduate degrees in Finance and Accounting.


Finalists will be invited to present their proposals at the 2nd UNECE Ideas for Change Award at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. Delegates from 56 Member States, together with the Expert Jury, will vote for the three best proposals and an official award ceremony will be held during the session.

Winners (1 to 3) will receive an official Award Certificates during the 2017 UNECE session.

Qualifying winners of the Ideas4Change competition will participate in the MassChallenge Israel global accelerator where they will be among 48 highly vetted teams gaining access to a world class program, mentors, investors, multinational corporations and other stakeholders. 



MassChallenge is the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet. No equity and not-for-profit, they are obsessed with helping entrepreneurs across all industries. MassChallenge also reward the highest-impact startups through a competition to win a portion of several million dollars in equity-free cash awards. Through their global network of accelerators in Boston, the UK, Israel, Switzerland, and Mexico and unrivalled access to their corporate partners, they can have a massive impact -- driving growth and creating value the world over. To date, their 1,211 alumni have raised $1.8 billion, generated $700 million in revenue, and created over 60,000 jobs.

The international jury is composed by highly-recognized experts coming from different backgrounds, including business, academia and policy making.

Buke Cuhadar serves as Vice President of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), a year-round platform of programs and initiatives created by the communities that celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week each November. Aimed at creating one global entrepreneurial ecosystem, GEN helps people in 165 countries unleash their ideas and turn them into promising new ventures. Buke has primary responsibility for coordinating the leaders of national networks in each of those countries while strengthening the collection of organizations that support them.

Prior to joining Global Entrepreneurship Network, Buke was the Marcom and Outreach Director at Endeavor Turkey, an affiliate of a global organization to catalyze long-term economic growth by selecting, mentoring and accelerating the best high-impact entrepreneurs around the world. While at Endeavor Turkey, Buke led the GEW Turkey campaign building a successful initiative and Board engaging more than 200 players across the entrepreneurship spectrum in Turkey.

Isabelle Andrieu is an entrepreneur and serial investor in startups. In 1999 she co-founded Translated.net, one of the first Internet-based translation services. In 2016 Translated.net was named among Europe's fastest growing tech companies by Tech Tour Growth 50. She is also co-founder and first citizen of Pi Campus, both a venture capital firm that invests in early-stage technology ventures and a startup district located in Rome.

Wendy Singer is Executive Director of Start-Up Nation Central, a non-profit which was inspired by the best-selling book, Start-Up Nation. SNC connects business and government leaders from across the globe with Israeli innovation.

Singer served previously as Director of AIPAC's Israel Office, where she and her team hosted several dozen US lawmakers annually, and monitored closely developments in the US-Israel relationship. She was a registered lobbyist on Capitol Hill for AIPAC, and covered the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She worked as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill for Senators John Kerry; Carl Levin; and Rep. Henry Waxman.

Olga Larionova is an International Business Lawyer and advisor with extensive experience in the United States, Switzerland, Russia and Mexico. She has been representing and advising companies in the areas of international corporate and commercial transactions, securities, contracts, intellectual property law with an emphasis on transborder technology transactions. Since 2013 she has been working at the Geneva office of a New York based law firm Wilk Auslander LLP.

Olga is originally from Russia and did her law studies in Russia; in Paris, France; and in Washington, DC, at George Washington University as a Fulbright Scholar and as a Thomas Buergenthal Scholar which is awarded for academic merit. She is admitted to practice law in New York and in Russia, and is a Vice-President of the Section of Lawyers from Foreign Bars of the Geneva Bar Association.

Linda Grieder is lawyer by training and entrepreneur by heart. She founded RethinkResource in 2016, a fast growing clean-tech start-up in Switzerland. RethinkResource offers one of the first cross-industry marketplaces for industrial waste and by-products. New materials and circular economy thus build her main area of interest and expertise.

Before becoming an entrepreneur Linda specialized in IP law and was mainly concerned with the impact of changes in society on law.

Based in our Zurich office, Charles Vaslet is a Partner with Emerald Technology Ventures with more than 10 years of venture capital experience.

Prior to joining Emerald, Charles held the position of Vice President with ABB Equity Ventures, one of the world's leading engineering companies, responsible for the development of large renewable energy projects in Europe. Previous to ABB, Charles led the business development activities of the cogeneration business of Innogy, a large UK electric utility, and has ten years of power utility experience, both engineering and commerce in the fields of renewable energy and thermal energy plants.

He currently serves on the Boards of Emergya Wind Technologies, P97 Networks, Senscient, River Basin Energy and Librestream Technologies. In addition, Charles spearheads the European Energy Venture Fair, the preeminent European cleantech investor conference. Charles graduated with a Bachelor degree with Honours in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Leeds and a Master of Business Administration from Henley Management College.


How to apply

Areas of interest

Selection process and timetable


Elegibility Criteria

Selection criteria

The Jury

The jury, to be announced soon, will be composed by representatives of organizations and academic institutions promoting start-ups, enterprise development and innovation, as well as individual business angels operating in different countries.

[Pictures, Names and Bios of the Jury]